The inexplicable meltdown of a nuclear power plant in Arizona, which kills 15,000 and exposes 400,000 more to potentially lethal doses of radiation, gets this taut damsel-in-distress entertainment from Pineiro (Retribution, 1995) off to a bang-up start. Four months after the reactor disaster, Pamela Sasser (a Ph.D. candidate in computer engineering) discovers flaws in the design of the Perseus microprocessor used in the control systems at the plant and shares the knowledge with her mentor, Professor Eugene LaBlanche. He informs Microtel, the chip's manufacturer, that its prize product has a bug. Determined to avert disclosures that could wipe out the multinational electronics company he founded, Preston Sinclaire begins masterminding a bloody cover-up. An influential member of the military/industrial complex, the venal CEO calls on the Defense Intelligence Agency for help. It arrives in the person of Harrison Beckett, a contract hit man who quickly dispatches LaBlanche and takes out after Pam (whose backup diskette is the last bit of evidence that could incriminate Sinclaire). Unbeknownst to the principals, FBI agent Esther Cruz (who's pursuing leads on another matter) becomes a player. Her presence upsets several applecarts, and Harrison (an assassin with a heart of gold) becomes privy to Pam's knowledge of the Perseus defects. Now a marked man himself, he joins forces with his erstwhile prey in a meandering but eventful flight. The two escape assaults by state troopers, as well as Sinclaire's vicious goons, and eventually reach the nation's capital, where Harrison is able to make contact with Cruz. The streetwise G-woman enlists the aid of her superiors in prosecuting Sinclaire. In a last-gasp effort to avoid ruin, however, Sinclaire abducts Pam, and Harrison must run one final and fearsome gauntlet before he can make a new life with his true love. A fast-paced thriller that cuts to the chase often and effectively enough to hustle most readers past the less plausible features of its road-race plot.